Capstone Requirements

The Capstone is a degree requirement for all MSOD and MPhil candidates. 

  • MSOD students, other than in the OCEC program, must register for DYNM 705 and all MPhil students must register for DYNM 899.
  • OCEC students (MSOD and MPhil) must register for DYNM 730 and DYNM 731.
  • The 705 Capstone class meets Monday evenings at 6:30 pm each semester. Opportunities to discuss progress, successes, and challenges with the course professor and with the class are central to the capstone class meetings.
  • Spring 2015 Course Syllabus

The capstone requires the student to study a topic of their own choice. The MSOD and MPhil capstone/thesis must meet the following criteria:

  • Makes an argument, describes or summarizes a position that is unique, original, or which directly applies to the student
  • Uses primary sources or applies to a primary organization as much as possible
  • Conforms to the style and format of good academic writing and the Capstone Presentation Guidelines (see Important Links below)
  • Allows a student to demonstrate competencies gained from the courses completed in the Organizational Dynamics program

Examples of MSOD and MPhil Capstones are available on Scholarly Commons the Penn Online Digital Library.

Capstone Preparation and Capstone Committee

Each student in the Capstone course is encouraged to follow the capstone preparation dates described in the Capstone Course Syllabus. The course professor will describe capstone requirements and formats, facilitate peer feedback, and will provide general guidance and support during the selecting and writing of the Capstone. When the topic has been decided, each student will establish a Capstone Committee consisting of of a Faculty Advisor and two Readers. A "4-Reader Format" Capstone Committee is also permitted as noted below.

Conflict of Interest: A Capstone Committee member who has a conflict of interest with the student or with another member of the Capstone Committee is not permitted. The following are examples of conflicts that are not permitted: a member who is the student's work or organizational supervisor, a student's family relative, or a family relative of a committee member (if the person is not a member of the Penn faculty).

Faculty Advisor

This person, selected for their expertise in the topic being addressed, provides detailed guidance, support and feedback as the capstone is developed and written. The Advisor should be a member of the faculty of Organizational Dynamics; however, if an Organizational Dynamics faculty member cannot be found who is an expert in the topic (or if a conflict exists) the student may petition to the Program Director to select an Advisor from another academic program or School at Penn. The following are Advisor role activities:

  • Accepts joining the committee after being sent the proposal.
  • Reviews, makes suggestions about content, academic direction, scholarly writing, and provides informal and formal feedback to the student throughout the writing of the document.
  • Discusses the student's work and progress with the Readers.
  • Submits an overall evaluation (final grade) based on the final draft and informed by the evaluations of the Readers to the Capstone course professor.
  • Signs the final document.


At least 2 Readers are required. Each Reader is selected to provide expertise about the topic being addressed. One Reader must be a member of the faculty of Organizational Dynamics. For the second Reader, students are encouraged to seek an expert with professional experience in the Capstone topic from outside Organizational Dynamics. As the capstone is submitted in partial fulfillment for a Master's Degree, it is common for Outside Readers to possess at least this academic level in addition to professional expertise. All Outside Readers must be reviewed by the Program Director before joining the Capstone Committee. The following are Reader role activities:

  • Accepts joining the committee after being sent the proposal.
  • Provides additional assistance about the academic or practical nature of the project if asked by the student.
  • Reviews and provides feedback to the student and to the Advisor when the first draft is completed.
  • Provides an overall evaluation (grade) to the Advisor based on the final draft.
  • Signs the final document

Capstone Evaluations

Capstone Readers in a 3-person committee submit a grade for a capstone.   If the Reader feels the work is unsatisfactory, the student is informed that revision is required until it reaches a higher level of evaluation. Capstone Readers in a 4-Reader committee each submit a grade. Capstone Advisors assign a final grade to the Capstone Course professor based on the final draft and informed by the Readers' comments and evaluations, and the Advisor's overall evaluation of the student's work. The Capstone Advisor may override the evaluation of a Reader.

Capstone Selection and Information Form

Students are encouraged to plan their capstone prior to the semester in which they expect to graduate. For example, to graduate in the 2015 Spring semester, a student should begin topic and committee selection in the 2014 Summer or Fall semester. When the topic and committee are approved, each student must complete and submit the Capstone Committee and Information Form to Meredith Methlie, Administrative Director. 

Capstone Delivery Dates

MSOD and MPhil capstones must adhere to the following dates to meet graduation requirements. A capstone received after a deadline date will apply to the next semester. "Delivered" means "accepted" in final form and ready to be signed by the Capstone Committee. This generally occurs after the Capstone Committee has met to discuss the evaluation, a grade has been agreed-upon and is forwarded for posting, and the program office has completed its documentation. Then the student is contacted to set up final delivery and other logistics. As long as the committee has "accepted" the capstone and is "ready" to sign it by the dates below, the deadline will have been met.

For Spring Graduation: May 1
For Summer Graduation: August 1
For Fall Graduation: December 1

Signature(s), Publication, and Binding

Each student is informed by the Organizational Dynamics Program Office when the capstone has been accepted by their committee on behalf of the University of Pennsylvania College of Liberal and Professional Studies. The notification also includes an explanation of the requirements and the details for obtaining signatures from the committee members, how to complete the written release form to permit publication in the Penn Online Library Scholarly Commons, and the delivery of the version that will be professionally bound then returned to the student. A capstone that receives a grade below "B" may not be placed on the Scholarly Commons.

Important Links